Amazon.com appears to be looking at "mobile manufacturing" as a new way to get customers the items they want even faster.
The company filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office February 19 in what looks like another effort to speed up deliveries. The company has already explored using commercial aerial drones to carry products from warehouses to customers' homes but current FAA restrictions prevent it from turning test flights into anything else.
What's Amazon's solution? 3D printing on wheels.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, duringa press conference in this September 06, 2012 file photo in Santa Monica, California. The e-commerce giant announced July 29, 2013 that it plans to hire over 5,000 new workers in the US to work in its fulfillment centers, handling and processing customer orders. The company is also adding 2,000 jobs in customer service in several locations in the US. The announcement comes ahead of President Barack Obamas visit Tuesday to Amazons Chattanooga, Tennessee fulfillment center, where he is expected to outline policy proposals to spur the creation of middle-class jobs. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
According to a summary of the patent filing, Amazon's latest idea would mean positioning "mobile manufacturing vehicles" with installed 3D printers into neighborhoods. As consumer place their orders online, instructions for how to 3D print the items would be sent to one of the nearby hubs. After that, it would be just a matter of time before the order is be out for delivery.
Amazon's current business model is one where consumers' online orders are sent to warehouses where millions of items are stored. The problem with that model, Amazon argues, is that it takes more time to get customers the products they order.
"The multiplicity of items offered may require the electronic marketplace owner/operator to maintain a large inventory requiring sufficient space to store the inventory," the filing reads. "An electronic marketplace may also face the challenge of time delays related to the process of finding the selected item among a large inventory."
But longer-than-desired delivery times aren't the only thing Amazon is seeking to change. The potential for rising consumer prices is also a concern for the online retailer.
"Increased space to store additional inventory may raise costs for the electronic marketplace. Additionally, time delays between receiving an order and shipping the item to the customer may reduce customer satisfaction and affect revenues generated," the filing states.
"Accordingly, an electronic marketplace may find it desirable to decrease the amount of warehouse or inventory storage space needed, to reduce the amount of time consumed between receiving an order and delivering the item to the customer, or both."
So could your Amazon orders soon be printed from inside a truck near your home? Amazon's apparently hoping so.
Amazon did not immediately respond to TheBlaze.
(H/T: The Verge)
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